Sunday 7 February 2021

Heroes of the Secret Underground

Heroes of the Secret Underground by Susanne Gervay (HarperCollins) PB RRP $16.99 ISBN: 9781460758335

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

Twelve-year-old Louie lives in Sydney’s Majestic Boutique Hotel with her Hungarian grandparents who run the establishment, and her two brothers, Bert and Teddy. Their peaceful existence is soon shattered, however, when Louie finds an old rose-gold locket marked with mysterious symbols.

During their search for answers about the locket, Louie and her brothers are transported to war-torn Budapest – where they not only discover the origins of the locket, but also uncover a tragic secret that their grandparents had buried deep in their souls for more than fifty years. In bringing the truth into the light, Louie and her brothers find a path for their family through the labyrinth of grief to the centre of harmony.


Based on the real-life experiences of Susanne Gervay’s parents in Nazi-occupied Hungary, Heroes of the Secret Underground is a superb time-slip tale that seamlessly melds fact with fiction. Middle-grade readers will be enthralled with the enigma of the locket, while rich historical details will immerse them in a world that is long gone but should never be forgotten.

Susanne’s use of present tense places the reader at Louie’s shoulder throughout the adventure, allowing them to encounter firsthand every breathtaking twist and turn. The darkness of hunger, pain and death is balanced beautifully with the brightness of courage, strength and love, ensuring that the reader feels hopeful and empowered by the book’s end.

Like the shadowy Danube River, Heroes of the Secret Underground carries the reader along on a dusky current of energy and emotion. Multilayered and mystical, the absorbing story will leave a lasting impression on young minds and hearts.

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